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Commentary: Work Is a Gift, or Is It?

Perttu Kyllönen | The Voice of Zion September 2017, Translated from Päivämies, no. 31, 2017 --

The time we live in emphasizes efficiency. This can result in exhaustion in both work and life. Some have too much work, while others do not have any work at all.

Work gives meaning to our life; we should be thankful that we have a job. God gave man the duty to cultivate and protect the earth. This meant doing work. After the fall into sin, God said, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” At that time hardship accompanied work, but it also included a blessing.

Work is a gift. The gift is not self-evident. Accepting the gift of work also requires something from us. It requires the attitude of a servant; we want to do our work as if for God.

According to research, Lutherans consider work to be a special gift. We serve God by participating in building a good society. Even today some may think that temporal work is joyless drudgery, which has no spiritual significance.

Lutheranism maintains that there is spiritual value to one’s earthly vocation. In serving God, I do not need to isolate myself from the world. Christian love occurs in the family, in the congregation, and in society. God is served by making peace, promoting justice, protecting nature, and helping the poor.

We have various work responsibilities as people. Luther taught that the work that we are called to do is all honest work. I once received Luther’s vocation prayer as a gift. This expresses thankfulness that God has given each one of us our own calling.

We pray in the vocation prayer that in working, we could put all of our cares upon God. This prayer continues to remind me each day when I open the door of my home and leave to work. Accepting the gift of work also requires something from us. At the same time, it reminds me of my work at home and calling as a Christian.

All work is of equal value. One person’s calling is realized as a teacher, another’s as a salesman, and for some, such as me, as a pastor. Work done as a mother at home is equally valuable.

Work requires much from us, but it also gives us much. It protects us from temptation and inactivity. When working, we are able to serve God and our neighbor. There we can use the gifts which God has given everyone for the right purpose.

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